This was originally a post to the newsgroup rec.pets.herp
by Rich Zuchowski, the owner of Serpenco,
which specializes in many morphs of Corn Snakes and Leopard Geckos.
The first part is a portion of the question asked, so readers can take
the information in context.
So, breeders, let me know, what does it take to get you to decide whether
or not you participate in a show...what are the more desirable characteristics?
Dates, table fees, locations and so on...please, we really would like
to set this up, maybe even this year...any advice is always welcome!
I guess it depends on
what sort of show you intend to do. A flea-market/swap style meet,
or something that has a little bit more class to it.
I'm just below Tallahassee, FL, so something like this might be of interest
to me, but like anything else, it depends.
Some things you will need to consider:
(1) Is the show date going to conflict with another BIG show somewhere
else? If you are going to try to draw well known vendors, they will
probably be booked nearly a year in advance.
(2) If you're
doing a flea market/swap meet, you can probably do one pretty quickly
and get a moderate turnout, no matter what. If it's going to be
a big affair, you are probably too late for this year since it will take
more planning and commitment than you can squeeze into the time remaining
for this season. Advertising in major publications usually has a
three month pipeline and most people probably already have plans in mind
for this year.
(3) If it looks like it's going to be a big affair, attendees
(non-vendor types) will plan their vacations around it. If it's
in Panama City during the summer months, that could work out well.
Hoping that no hurricanes pop up, of course. Try to pick a place
for the show that has some alternatives for the significant other that
might not be all that interested in the herps.
(4) Generally, we greatly prefer a two day show. This
is for a couple of reasons. Generally it's a lot of trouble getting
ready for, setting up, and then breaking down for a show. Trying
to compact that all in a single day is a real pain. The Saturday
nights of a two day show are
about the only time my wife and I get to relax during the months between
March and October. So if your show is a one day show and only 3
hours away and another competing show is 8 hours away and a two day affair,
we will go to the two day show. Vendors very often will make more
at a two day show than a one day show. And quite frankly, if they
don't make anything on the first day of the show, they might as well pack
it up and go home anyway rather than be there for the following day.
(5) Are you going to make it a reptile only show or an 'exotic
animal show? Exotic animal shows will bring in more people, which
is good for the promoter, but it's damn aggravating for most of the vendors.
Let's face it, no one coming to the show with the intention of buying
a bird or going to the petting zoo in the back is suddenly going to get
smitten with a desire to buy the reptiles on the other tables. It's
about as likely as me suddenly whipping out my wallet to buy a cockatiel
across the aisle from me. Ain't going to happen. So what the
reptile breeders wind up being is cheap thrills for the mass of gawkers
who come through the door and point at the snakes in deli cups saying
"Yuch!! How many of them thar snakes is poisonous?"
(6) What's the price of admission going to be? You need to
find the price point that is low enough that most people won't squawk
too loudly but high enough to keep only people that are planning to buy
coming into the door rather than those people just bored and looking for
something to kill the time. I know you can sometimes get a first
time buyer from these gawkers, but it's more the exception than the rule.
I know this sounds cold, but unless the vendors are selling animals and
making some money at the show, they certainly have better things they
could be doing with their time.
(7) Baby strollers? Again, I know this sounds cold, but anyone
whom has been to a large show and gotten their ankles busted on a baby
stroller knows what I mean when I say they should stay outside.
I think Wayne Hill's policy is that they are banned from his show and
with good reason. I might have sold animals to someone pushing a
baby stroller but if I did it was a rare enough event that I certainly
don't remember it.
(8) Captive hatched only or anything goes? I'd rather have
healthy wildcaughts on the table next to me than sick captive hatched.
It would be well worth while to have a health policy in effect and a vet
at the show to inspect and eject any animals that don't make the grade.
I've been to more than one show where I watched people sell an animal
that I just knew wasn't going to live through the trip home to some enthusiastic
kid that didn't have a clue what he was buying. A show's lifeblood
will be repeat business. Yeah that guy made his one sale, but is
that kid coming back for the next show?
(9) ADVERTISE HEAVILY!! And not just in the national herp
magazines. The local population needs to know about it and far enough
in advance that they can make plans to be there. We did a couple
of shows out in Jacksonville, FL where the promoter's idea of advertising
was to hang a banner on the fence along the road to the motel where the
show was being held. He did that on the morning of the show.
That show died a well deserved death very quickly.
(10) Advertise the show as a SHOW & SALE. I have
honestly been to shows and had people standing in front of my tables lamenting
the fact that they had no idea they could buy animals at the show.
They didn't even think to bring any money with them. To some people
a 'show' is like a car show, where you go and look at those things but
you certainly don't expect you'll be bringing one home with you.
(11) Make a commitment to the show if you're really going
to do it. There was another guy who had plans on doing 4 shows in this
area a couple of years ago. Even had one planned here in Tallahassee.
Problem was, we called all of the places he was supposed to be holding
the shows and not one of them had been reserved for the dates of the shows.
Not one. So, of course, that idea died on the vine because no one
was going to send this unknown their money as a commitment for the show
when he wasn't making a commitment himself.
(12) Talk to other promoters about how they do their shows.
Attend a few and get a feel for what is behind it. A big affair is a major
commitment on your time, money, and sanity. Don't jump into it lightly,
but if you do decide to jump in, make sure you have all of your ducks
in a line and then jump in with both feet. If you do a show half-assed,
it will be a half-assed show, and that first impression will last a long
time. News of the show will have spread to everyone before you're
even done cleaning up afterwards.
(13) Try to get some mouse suppliers and cricket suppliers
to attend as vendors at the show. You would be surprised how many
reptile shows have faltered simply because prospective buyers were afraid
they wouldn't be able to find food for their new purchases.
Whew!! This sure got me going! I know I missed some things,
but this will give you plenty of food for thought.